by Ian Marshall, Editor
In every major event on the calendar they have enjoyed success; in addition to being members of winning Chinese outfits at Olympic Games and World Team Championships, their list of individual titles in recent times is unparalleled.
A record breaking five times the winner of the Women’s World Cup, three times victorious at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, the reigning World champion; the record of Liu Shiwen will stand the test of time. It is the same for Ding Ning, Olympic Games gold medallist, three times World champion, twice Women’s World Cup winner plus in 2015 the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals’ title secured.
Yet only once has Ding Ning reached the women’s singles final at an ITTF World Tour tournament in Germany, in 2010, a decade ago, she finished in runners up spot losing to colleague Feng Yalan, Liu Shiwen has never reached the final!
Equally consider the past year, the best on the ITTF World Tour for either player was the silver medal spot.
Liu Shiwen was the runner up in Qatar and Japan, losing respectively to colleagues Wang Manyu and Sun Yingsha. Similarly it was second place for Ding Ning in Australia when also suffering in opposition to Sun Yingsha, as it was in the Korea Republic when beaten by Chen Meng.
Extend the results further into the history books, in 2018 Liu Shiwen won in Qatar and Australia, Ding Ning prevailed in Bulgaria; in a period of two years a total of just three ITTF World Tour women’s singles titles. A most creditable record for the vast majority of humanity but when your name is Ding Ning or Liu Shiwen, it is below par.
Now consider the results of the chasing pack; those eager to follow in their footsteps. In the past two years Chen Meng has won five ITTF World Tour women’s singles titles plus twice the Grand Finals; Wang Manyu has four to her name, for Sun Yingsha she has three such wins.
Also, add one more player to the list who has prevailed three times since January 2018; note the name of Japan’s Mima Ito.
All appear on the entry list in Magdeburg; Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen are looking over their shoulders, major world titles to their credit but at the ITTF World Tour German Open, both have points to prove.